Fireball Sightings 2003

By Alastair McBeath

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Table of all Fireball Reports
  • Detailed Reports

Introduction

Fireball reports, especially those made from the British Isles and nearby areas, are always welcomed by the SPA Meteor Section. See the Making and Reporting Fireball Observations page on this website for details of what to record on seeing a fireball, where and how to report your data.

Below is a list of some of the fireballs reported to the Section from 2003. It mainly consists of those events seen away from the major meteor shower maxima (when fireballs are more common), unless the objects were not part of the meteor shower in question, or were particularly impressive. A “*” in the ‘Magnitude and Notes’ column indicates further details are given in the second table.

Table of all Fireball Reports

Date Time (UT) Magnitude and Notes Observed from
03/01/3-4 ~09:00 In daylight; end flare Cumbria
03/01/5-6 ~00:10 Bright Northumberland
03/01/15-16 21:50 Very bright; 3 reports Essex & S Wales
03/01/19-20 19:30 Bright; slow; fragmented Lincolnshire
03/01/23-24 ~21:23 -3/-5; 3 reports Lancs, W Yorks, Northumberland
03/01/27-28 17:26 -3/-5; in twilight Northumberland
03/01/27-28 19:50:36 -13/-17; many reports* SE Spain
03/02/1-2 01:40 Very bright; exploded* Co Cork, Ireland
03/02/5-6 ~21:55 -2/-3; 4 reports England N of Midlands
03/02/12-13 ~06:00 Bright; media reports* Donegal, Ireland
03/02/13-14 21:26 Brilliant; 2 reports Edinburgh & N Yorks
03/02/13-14 04:45 Fireball brightness Kent
03/02/19-20 18:13 -5/-7; several reports* London & Netherlands
03/02/19-20 20:53 -5/-7; several reports Netherlands
03/02/21-22 ~22:00 -5; 5 reports Lancs, Lincs, Herts, Berks, London
03/02/22-23 20:00 +/- 15m -5/-9 London
03/03/7-8 22:20 -6? Co Durham
03/03/14-15 19:08 Very bright Cardiff
03/03/26-27 ~06:00 -15/-20; meteorites; many reports* Midwestern USA
03/04/9-10 20:35 Very bright; 2 reports Edinburgh & W Yorks
03/04/20-21 03:35 Brilliant; seen from indoors Bristol
03/05/31-32 ~18:46 In daylight; 2 reports* Netherlands
03/06/21-22 23:40 Fireball class; 2 reports* Essex & Kent
03/06/22-23 22:30 +/- 10m -5/-9; 3 reports* Lancs & Cos. Dublin & Kildare
03/07/10-11 22:41 At least -5 Surrey
03/07/16-17 ~20:40 Very bright S France
03/07/19-20 ~00:55-01:00 Bright; point-source meteor?* York
03/07/24-25 ~19:50 Brighter than -5 S France
03/07/30-31 ~00:36 Bright; good train; PER? Sussex
03/08/4-5 ~00:15 Very bright Inverness
03/08/27-28 ~22:30 Brilliant; several reports Cos. Clare & Dublin
03/09/6-7 20:15 +/- 15m Bright; simultaneous sound Belfast
03/09/15-16 20:57 -2/-3 Hertfordshire
03/09/17-18 20:10 +/- 10m Bright; several vague reports S England
03/09/27-28 13:05 Brilliant; meteorites* Orissa & West Bengal, India
03/09/29-30 21:11 Bright; several reports* Belgium, Netherlands, Germany
03/10/1-2 17:15 +/- 15m Very bright; in daylight Swansea & Cambridge
03/10/11-12 21:06 Full Moon brightness Hampshire
03/10/19-20 17:50 Bright; fragmented Berkshire
03/10/24-25 ~18:35 -5/-8? Merseyside
03/11/10-11 18:25 -4/-6 Essex
03/11/12-13 17:02 -4/-5; fragmented Staffordshire
03/11/12-13 21:06 -10/-12?; fragmented Hampshire
03/11/20-21 ~16:40 Brilliant; in daylight; 2 reports Argyll & Strath Spey
03/11/20-21 ~00:30 Very bright; 2 reports Perthshire & Powys
03/11/24-25 20:45 -5/-9? Northumberland
03/11/27-28 ~06:05 Very bright; media reports only Shropshire
03/11/30-31 05:15 Bright Dublin
03/12/3-4 ~18:10 Very bright; fragmented Cornwall
03/12/8-9 01:59 -6? N Yorkshire
03/12/11-12 ~19:20 Bright; fragmented; 2 reports* Central Wales
03/12/11-12 ~22:30 Bright* Lancashire
03/12/11-12 ~23:03 Bright; green* Manchester
03/12/12-13 ~23:05 -10/-13?* Derbyshire
03/12/19-20 21:07 Brilliant N Yorkshire
03/12/21-22 ~01:30 Very bright Nottinghamshire

Detailed Reports

Date Time (UT) Notes Details
03/01/27-28 19:50:36 -13/-17; many reports*; SE Spain Reports reached the Section on the January 27-28, 19:50 UT fireball from members of the British expatriate community of southern Spain, from where the meteor was widely-observed. A detailed report was published in the International Meteor Organization’s journal WGN 31:2 for 2003 April, pp. 49-52, prepared by Spanish meteor expert Josep Trigo-Rodriguez and five of his colleagues from the Spanish SPMN meteor group. Their investigations showed the object had flown on a track passing roughly east to west high above near-Iberian North Africa. Any meteorites would likely have splashed down into the Atlantic Ocean. An online version of the report in Spanish is available here.
03/02/1-2 01:40 Very bright; exploded*; Co Cork, Ireland The February 1-2 fireball was unusual because it produced a simultaneous, relatively loud hissing noise, as heard by one witness outdoors who saw the meteor, and another indoors who did not. A third witness, indoors and listening to BBC Radio Five Live on medium wave, found that the radio signal was briefly interrupted at the same time by a curious electronic “whooshing” sound, different to the typical overnight atmospheric interference on medium wave. This might suggest such noises, previously thought produced by VLF or ELF radio waves, might actually be broadcasting across a range of different frequencies.
03/02/12-13 ~06:00 Bright; media reports*; Donegal, Ireland Media reports were all that arrived on the February 12-13 fireball, some of which suggested the object was moving roughly SSE to NNW.
03/02/19-20 18:13 -5/-7; several reports*; London & Netherlands Aside from being so widely-seen, the fireball at 18:13 UT on February 19-20 was also caught by two infrasound detectors at Deelen and De Bilt in Holland. Infrasound (at too low a frequency for humans to detect it) is a fascinating tool for making additional observations of fireballs, which can help triangulate to a location of part of the event in the atmosphere. The detectors also pick up other sounds, such as storms far out over the Atlantic, which is one of their main functions. More details are available here.
03/03/26-27 ~06:00 -15/-20; meteorites; many reports*; Midwestern USA While significantly further afield than the meteors usually reported here, the March 26-27 fireball over America attracted considerable interest even in Britain. It became known as the Park Forest Meteorite fall, after a spectacular meteor flew over around local midnight, as seen across the American Midwest (from Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan), and rained several hundred chondritic meteorites down on the Park Forest suburb of Chicago, Illinois, damaging roads, houses and cars. Luckily, nobody was injured, especially as some of the recovered pieces weighed between 2 to 3.5 kg.
03/05/31-32 ~18:46 In daylight; 2 reports*; Netherlands Infrasound detectors in the Netherlands caught the May 31 daylight fireball, as also on February 19-20. The object was seen from the Netherlands too. The infrasound data suggested the meteor had occurred a short way off the west coast of Holland. Dutch observers spotted a second fireball that same night (May 31 to June 1), between 02:30-03:00 UT. Neither were reported from the UK.
03/06/21-22 23:40 Fireball class; 2 reports*; Essex & Kent The June 21-22 fireball may have passed over the North Sea off the Yorkshire coast, and over northern England too, while the June 22-23 meteor probably passed far above the Irish Sea, fairly close to the Isle of Man, but neither trajectory could be better-defined than this.
03/06/22-23 22:30 +/- 10m -5/-9; 3 reports*; Lancs & Cos. Dublin & Kildare
03/07/19-20 ~00:55-01:00 Bright; point-source meteor?*; York Whether the July 19-20 event was a genuine point-source fireball, or simply a bright, brief satellite flare, could not be determined.
03/09/27-28 13:05 Brilliant; meteorites*; Orissa & West Bengal, India Another unusually distant object for this list was the Orissa meteorite shower of September 27. The widely-seen fireball around 6:35 p.m. local time caused a door-rattling and window-breaking sonic boom. Tragically, one death followed, after a 55-year old man collapsed from shock on seeing the fireball. Three other shock-related injuries were reported, as well as damage to houses and craters formed in the fields. It was not clear how much of this damage was due to the shower of chondritic meteorites which landed in parts of Orissa, though the meteorites weighed up to 5.7 kg. For instance, a fire started after a kerosene stove in one home was knocked over, but it was unclear if a meteorite striking the house had actually caused the accident.
03/09/29-30 21:11 Bright; several reports*; Belgium, Netherlands, Germany The September 29-30 fireball probably flew over northern France, passing near Verdun. No UK reports were received on it.
03/12/11-12 ~19:20 Bright; fragmented; 2 reports*; Central Wales The December 11-12 and 12-13 fireballs could not be definitely identified as from the Geminid shower, whose maximum was on December 14, though it is possible some may have been. No other single source was responsible, from the information on each available.
03/12/11-12 ~22:30 Bright*; Lancashire
03/12/11-12 ~23:03 Bright; green*; Manchester
03/12/12-13 ~23:05 -10/-13?*; Derbyshire

Prepared by Alastair McBeath, SPA Meteor Section Director.

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